More than 95 million American households deck the halls with a Christmas tree, according to the American Christmas Tree Association. About 80% of those homes opt for faux firs, which leaves about 17 million trees sold live in the States. But that number is increasing, which is trend the Natural Resources Defense Council fully approves of: Due to chemical-laden plastics and the fact that most artificial trees are made in China and shipped abroad, they estimate you’d have to use your fake tree about 20 years to offset its eco-impact.
Luckily, there's a new option akin to a Rent the Runway gown or that pair of skis on vacation—you can rent a Christmas tree, which offers an environmentally-friendly solution for families hoping to savor the scent and experience of going green.
While this trend has been slowly growing in the States, it grew in popularity in 2012 after Scott Martin pitched the idea for The Living Christmas Co. to the investors on the reality show Shark Tank. They bit. Still, Christmas tree rental is only available in pockets of the U.S. via companies like The Living Christmas Co. and Rent Xmas Tree (both of which serve California). Other vendors, such as Rent-A-Christmas, offer rental of real and artificial spruces in the New York City metro area. If you're outside those two areas, you may have luck with your local Christmas tree farm—check to see if they offer rental options.
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If you rent from The Living Christmas Co., you’re able to select your Christmas tree type and size online—currently they offer Monterrey Pine, Aleppo Pine, and Blue Spruce. The company transfers your tree to a pot and delivers it directly to your door. While the tree is in your care, you’re responsible for watering, feeding, and nurturing it as outlined it the care instructions that are enclosed. Come December 26—or your desired pick-up date—someone from the nursery returns to pick up the tree. It's then repotted and cared for until it's available for rental again next year. Each tree can be re-rented for up to seven years, which is about the time it'll grow too large for in-home use and is planted its forever home in the local community or nearby forests through a reforestation project.
According to Martin, “Our clients tend to be families and young couples looking to celebrate Christmas in a way that is in line with their values. Most identify as being conscious consumers and caring about the environment.” He says the Living Christmas Tree Co. offers between 600 to 1,000 trees for rent each year, and “always sell out as many as we offer."
Since this is a fairly new and labor-intensive process, costs start at $155 per tree rental including delivery and pick-up. “Our living trees take a lot longer to grow, so they are more expensive than tree farm-grown trees. We do our best to keep the costs down and even offer an assortment of ‘Misfit Trees’ at a lower cost,” Martin says.
While it’ll likely be more expensive than buying a tree from your local nursery, by renting, you can consider it a gift to Mother Nature for years to come. If renting isn’t available in your area quite yet, you can also consider buying a Christmas tree to plant.